- Vol. 08
- Chapter 05
Time to Grow
I stand here, looking out over the journey ahead. The Truth looks so close; only a days travel, at most. It glimmers there, at the horizon. But I know that’s not it. Not at all. I started out fresh and innocent of mind, like my fellow Travellers.
Thirteen of us crossed the Border together. Thirteen youngsters deemed ready for the life-changing Rite of Passage. Not even half of us would succeed, we were told at our departure. It didn’t scare us. To grow up seemed a worthy enough cause to die for. Besides, we were all skilled survivors. As long as we help each other out, everything should be fine.
Four were lost during the Spring Mountain ascension. Brown’s fault. He was the natural leader, Chieftan’s son as he was. Too many were too ready to trust his word before common sense. Fish, Beam, Pine and Pebbles all paid for the mistake with their lives. Stupid, unnecessary deaths, caused by a stupid boy’s desire to prove mature. He was replaced without question and forced down the ranks; he only risked killing ants with his feet now. Our new leader, Speckled-Fur, was kinder to him than he deserved by not forcing him to return to the Mainland.
I’m on watch duty. I have been since the beginning, thanks to my superior eyesight and agile limbs. I can sit for hours without moving, night after night, and sleep during the day instead. That was Boulder’s idea. The giant boy was willing to carry me during the day if it meant that the rest could sleep uninterrupted during the night during my watch. They make sure to save me some food throughout the day, and only wake me in the event of a particularly rare sighting. I sleep the rest of the day, trusting my friends to look after me just as I look after them during the night hours.
Time to Grow
The moon is high in the sky, a shimmering silver coin down in the Autumn Lake far below. It’s a shame we lost Fish; she would’ve been able to summon food throughout the journey across the waters and beyond, into the freezing Winter Passage. A shame to lose such an excellent hunter so early on. I suppose Speckled-Fur was right when he said it matters little to worry about that now. We must stay focused on each Season as we move forward, or we won’t make it through alive. The Summer Forest, filled with dangerous animals and poisonous edibles, awaits us first.
It’s a curious journey indeed. What seems short is long, and the other way around. It wears down our minds and sharpens our gifts, polishes our rough diamonds as we overcome each challenge. Always as a team, for nothing survives in solitude on the Time Plains.
Far ahead it glimmers, on the other side of the Winter Passage. Our destination. The mists and frost can’t hide the strong light, calling us.
We’ll continue at first daylight.